A religious group that went viral for seeking a permit to establish a church exclusive to white people has been permitted to hold gatherings at an abandoned church.
The Asatru Folk Assembly is a religious group that practices “a pre-Christian, European spirituality” and accepts only white people with northern European heritage.
Due to the group’s controversial comments and rules, the AFA has been accused of white supremacy even though its members don’t consider themselves racist.
Now, the group has been granted a permit to start holding exclusive gatherings at an abandoned Lutheran church that they bought over the summer.
The church in question is located in Murdock, a small Minnesota town that is home to just under 300 people of whom the majority are white.
Since the building is located in a residential area, the AFA required a permit to hold gatherings in the church that they aim to make a base of their operations for the Midwest area.
The permit has been granted by Murdock, Minnesota’s City Council in a 3-1 vote despite residents’ fears that the church, and their small town, could become the “hate capital of Minnesota.”
“We were highly advised by our attorney to pass this permit for legal reasons to protect the First Amendment rights,” Mayor Craig Kavanagh explained after the permit has been granted.
As Attorney Don Wilcox warned the council members, they could be facing legal action if they chose to reject the group’s application based on their religious beliefs.
“There are certain constitutional protections that apply to religions. I haven’t seen any evidence sufficient to overcome the presumption that they are a religion, whether you agree with it or not,” Wilcox reportedly said.
“There’s not a compelling interest in keeping that building from being used for meetings. Just because you don’t like it doesn’t mean they can’t do it.”
After the permit has been granted, upset critics have launched a petition in an attempt to block the AFA from proceeding with their plans. Meanwhile, some angry locals have also publicly expressed their thoughts about the group.
“I think they thought they could fly under the radar in a small town like this, but we’d like to keep the pressure on them. Racism is not welcome here,” Peter Kennedy, a Murdock resident, said in an interview with NBC News.
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